Born again Legrottaglie seeks new lease of Juve life

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Ah, summer. Time for Italian footballers to head to Sardinia for two weeks of sun, sea and whatever else takes their fancy.

However, while his peers are clubbing the night away and indulging in the odd ice-cream or three, one player has kicked such hedonistic ways into touch.

Nicola Legrottaglie headed off to America’s deep south to savour some sweet gospel music.

Legrottaglie: Giving Skegness a miss this year

The Juventus defender is a born-again Christian and so has spurned the pleasures of the flesh for a more prosaic lifestyle.

It’s only a short jaunt as Juve will be back in pre-season training on July 5 – more of a bible-belt reconnaissance ahead of the real thing when his career is over.

“I want to spend a year playing in the States where there are plenty of evangelical churches,” he revealed.

Strangely, he is a great Ray Charles (below) fan; a notorious womaniser which is something big Nicola is not.

He has admitted he has not had sex for the last two years and it’s nothing to do with not liking the ladies but rather he’s waiting for the right sigorina to come along.

Nothing too strange in that, as he shares the same values as Ricky Kaka who claimed, and who are we to disagree, that he remained a virgin until his wedding to Caroline as a “test of our love.”

Kaka’s religious beliefs have been part of his life from a young age but for Legrottaglie it took the pressures of playing professional football for him to see the light.

Making the big-money move from the backwater of Chievo Verona to Juventus in 2003 came with a heavy prize: mistakes are never forgiven.

And he certainly made plenty of blunders and without the blind faith in his own ability he was shipped off on loan to Bologna and then Siena.

It was at the Tuscan club that his team-mate Tomas Guzman saved him from a downward spiral into what he described as “self pity.”

“Tomas taught me how to open my heart and ask Jesus to enter. He told me to look for Jesus because only he can change your life.”

Ray Charles: Easier to find photos of than Jesus

With the arrival of Olof Mellberg and Jorge Andrade fit again, the 32-year-old may have to face up to some more hard questions come the new season but at least this time he has a higher power to help him through.